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I've already told you a bit about Lucio Mandura, but I thought I'd share a little bit more. (The bulk of this story was written by Maureen Goal, a volunteer with Heifer Peru.)


Lucio Mandura Crispin (40) lives with his wife, Sebastiana Pacce Jora (36) and their five children, Justa Martina (14), Celia (12), Jose (9) and Vilma (3, also known as "The Queen of the House." Lucio and his family lived in a small Quechua-speaking community in the barren Peruvian Andes. The Crispin family lives in the community of Fundo Tumpata, Pacchanta, which is about three hours by car from Cusco. The village is approximately 13,000 feet above sea level. Traditionally the harsh environment could only support potatoes and the wild grasses eaten by alpacas and llamas. Recently, though, Lucio began to experiment with greenhouses for growing vegetables and fruit, and experimenting with improving the genetic make-up of his alpacas and pastures (both sparked by Heifer's help over the past two years. He also has a biogas unit (a nice thing about alpacas is that they tend to poop in the same place over and over, which makes collecting it pretty easy).

Lucio's herd of female alpacas.

 Today, the majority of the family's income comes from selling the improved alpacas and vegetables. Although his wife mainly works at home and weaves crafts, and the children attend school, the whole family participates in the housework and work with the alpacas and greenhouse. Despite the rigorous work, the family's overall nutrition has improved. Before Heifer's involvement–combined with the family's hard work and initiative–the family's life was difficult and impoverished. This was back when they were beholden to the alpaca wool factories, before Lucio's experimentation and greenhouse.

Lucio shows us a sub-par alpaca.
This animal has three colors of wool on its body.

As the alpaca wool industry burgeoned in Peru, factories became increasingly interested in only purchasing white alpaca wool since it is easier to dye. Following the market's demand, small alpaca breeders have bred out the darker animals. However, it is the darker animals that have better wool and are more resilient to the harsh conditions of the Andes. Heifer is helping reverse this trend and to bring purebred, colored alpacas back into the region.

Now the family has about 100 alpacas, of which 20 are "competition caliber" due to their improved genetic makeup. The rest are still "intermediates," signifying they still have llama-like qualities. The family sells their competition-caliber sires in addition to entering them in contests, because "this is where the money is."
These improved alpacas not only come from better breeding methods, a skill first introduced to Lucio in Heifer workshops. In total, Lucio has learned from Heifer how to improve his alpaca herd through trainings  on controlled mating and care for pregnant alpacas, how to improve the cultivated grasses the alpacas eat, and more sustainable grazing methods.

This is one of Lucio's prize-winning alpacas.
Her wool is dark, thick and curly,
all desirable traits.

In addition to receiving a pair of colored male alpacas of improved genetic quality from Heifer, Lucio received cultivated grass seeds to improve his pastures. Lucio said, "Now I have separate corrals for the fathers and the offspring," which is a much better and more secure breeding method. He also now has well-marked pastures that he uses on a rotating scheme to graze his alpacas. He is currently making his own investment of $364 to buy his own pasture seeds.

Author

Brooke Edwards

Brooke Edwards is from Little Rock, Arkansas, and started working at Heifer International in 2009 as a writer. She has a master's in social work and a bachelor's degree in psychology. She is married, a mother of two, and a wannabe urban farmer, raising her own chickens and killing most of her vegetable crops.